By John D. Cross
Did you ever wonder why some people who are very smart donï¿½t
do well in school? Or how about people or kids who arenï¿½t all that
smart, but seem to get ahead and do better in school and in life,
while smarter people donï¿½t! One answer to this mystery is that the
smart people may be people who donï¿½t know how to study. Another
is that those who seemed to be less smart knew how to study!
I have known several remarkable people in my life who didnï¿½t
get ahead in life, didnï¿½t do the things they wanted to, couldnï¿½t
be all that they could be and didnï¿½t work up to their full potential,
because, unfortunately, they did not know how to study. For one
thing, they may never have been taught. To all those people who
feel that way about themselves, to those to whom not knowing how
to study has somehow cheated them of all that should be theirs ï¿½
this article, these ten tips, are dedicated.
Embrace the enemy ï¿½ Most people associate study with boredom.
They approach it unhappily or, at least, as if they know it is going
to be boring and tedious, dull, and miserable. So right from the
start you will have an edge if you embrace your old enemy ï¿½ studying
- and say, ï¿½Iï¿½m going to have as much fun studying as possible.
This will start the juices flowing and youï¿½ll be thinking positive
and headed in the right direction. Ideas about how to study will
come to you. Youï¿½ll amaze yourself at the broadened horizons, the
new methods you never would have thought of to help yourself learn,
if you simply have a better attitude about studying in the first
Think youï¿½ll never get excited about studying? Fake it till you
make it. Obviously, you may not be as excited about studying as
seeing a movie or going on a shopping spree, but couldnï¿½t you work
in shopping for things to help you study as part of the spree? Takes
on a whole different light, doesnï¿½t it? Is now the time for that
new recording device? New notebook? Get rid of your hatred and boredom
ï¿½ get psyched for boring topics and youï¿½ll breeze through easy ones,
make more money in the long run and earn self-respect and the respect
of others because you have conquered the material. It no longer
looms large in front of you like Mt. Everest. Youï¿½ve made it to
Immersion is the key ï¿½ You have lots of free time but may not
realize it. Every time you are standing in line at the registry
of motor vehicles to renew your license, you have free time to study.
Every time you are driving in a car with a CD or cassette deck,
you have time to study. Every time you go to the bathroom, you have
time to study! Can you think of other times when you thought you
didnï¿½t have time, but with a little imagination you can work studying
in? You could study an astounding four to ten times as much in the
same amount of time you used to! Canï¿½t find a cassette or CD on
the topic for the car? Make your own! Read from the textbook if
you must. Or read class notes into a tape recorder.
Skimming each assignment or important materials prior to reading
ï¿½ If you skim each reading assignment before you read it, you will
see and retain far more than you think you would. You can then read
for a better comprehension at a more relaxed pace. Isnï¿½t it better
to go into the in-depth style of reading with some of the stuff
out of the way first?
Posting things you forget or key things to remember ï¿½ Thatï¿½s
how you study in the bathroom as mentioned in the immersion tip
ï¿½ Post a few three by five or larger sized cards around the bathroom
or tv room with some info you find hard to understand or remember.
You know you will be going to the bathroom at least once or twice
a day, so you will have worked in a few more minutes of study time.
If you stare at that thing just that much extra time you may be
able to visualize it in your mind when it comes time to take a test!
Donï¿½t start at the beginning if you already have a middle or
end in mind ï¿½ Canï¿½t get that composition flowing because you donï¿½t
know where to begin? You have to ask yourself ï¿½ do you already know
where to end? Then write the ending first! You can work backwards.
With your new mindset toward studying, you are now thinking out
of the box and arenï¿½t held back by old methods or ï¿½serialï¿½ thinking.
Start at the beginning, middle or end ï¿½ whichever strikes you fancy.
A middle means youï¿½ve probably got a handle on how to begin or end
coming up shortly into mind. An end means you have to tell how you
arrived at it. A beginning suggests a follow-up. That would be a
middle. Two follow-ups after a beginning is usually an end! So donï¿½t
get hung up on how to get started! Start anywhere! The rest will
Flash cards work ï¿½ Rote works! One older method of study that
has its merits, despite the repetitious nature of it and the distinct
possibility you may not retain the information as well ï¿½ is learning
things by rote! You may not retain the material as long, although
some people do, but you will retain it long enough to finish the
course. Flashcards work for times when you must remember a lot of
facts in a short amount of time. For example, when you need to memorize
100 new words in French for a test. If you know the concept of how
to change from present tense to past tense, that is one type of
learning, but it wonï¿½t do you much good when its time to tell the
teacher how to say ï¿½Pierre was driving down the boulevard last Thursday.ï¿½
Get the idea? Good.
Really listen or just take notes in class ï¿½ Did you ever see
people as you look around a classroom who are busily taking notes
industriously in a notebook? Do you think they retain all that information?
Probably not! Of course, not. You arenï¿½t in class to scribble! Sometimes
you canï¿½t even read those scribblings later. Whereas if you listen
and then take down what you might forget or what seems important
you are that much better off. So listen carefully. This doesnï¿½t
mean you shouldnï¿½t write things down. In fact, you still do need
to take notes, but itï¿½s just that that shouldnï¿½t be the focus of
classroom time. Write down things that you think will be on the
test, right down things the teacher emphasizes as very important.
Write down things you know you wonï¿½t remember. Write down things
that arenï¿½t in the textbook that the teacher is teaching you because
you will need to know that more than what is in the textbook. You
get the picture? But if you try to take down every word ï¿½ youï¿½ll
get hung up on being a recording secretary and not a student!
The teacher gives hints ï¿½ Go up to the teacherï¿½s desk after class,
make an appointment to see the teacher about your progress. This
isnï¿½t just because it will be harder to give an F because of your
effort. More than just getting the grade, if you really donï¿½t understand
something, he or she will probably take time to give you a bit of
an extra lesson on that. Besides, teachers respect effort. They
know that not every subject is easy to grasp and that people have
varying levels of aptitude for various subjects and disciplines
involving various skills sets. You might not get an A for effort
but you might get many more points toward a better grade if you
use interaction with the teacher as a study habit.
Donï¿½t get hung up on the medium ï¿½ The teacher has read such things
as the Cliff and Monarch notes, too. Teachers know students cramming
may resort to reading these instead of original versions or assigned
versions of texts and literature. One of the stupidest things you
can do is use language directly from these synopses. The teacher
may recognize it immediately. So this tip isnï¿½t about shortcuts.
Itï¿½s about a passion for learning! Donï¿½t be hemmed in by the medium!
Who says you have to learn from a book? Go to the movies, rent a
movie, find out of if there are library materials to borrow, too.
Audio cassettes, CDs and DVDs are often available at the library,
even on some fairly technical subjects. Still, the most important
thing to point out here is that if you use your time creatively
you may ingest all the material flung at you. As an example, I remember
one year in college taking a required course in Shakespeare. How
was I going to remember all those characters and pages of quotes?
So in addition to slogging through the reading, I took out recordings
of famous actors reading their parts! That listening helped me ï¿½hearï¿½
the material as well as just read it. When the time came to take
the test, I had a distinct edge over those who had only read the
Be a beginner always ï¿½ When life gets complex, go back to the
basics. Go back to 8th grade books then reread new works; become
a beginner. If you canï¿½t understand something in one textbook or
workbook ï¿½ try another! And donï¿½t be afraid to learn the concept
from a book ordinarily used in another grade level.
These are but a few of the ways you can get creative about studying
and not only learn more comfortably and better, but usually achieve
better grades, too! Good luck and get creative!
John D. Cross maintains a motivational and meditation web
(log) site. He is a motivational speaker, meditation instructor,
teacher of comparative spirituality, registered optician in
the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and music reviewer.